A GRAND final, a huge television audience tuning in and row of celebrity judges with egos to match those of the overpaid presenters. It’s just another Saturday night in TV land.
Laura Berridge’s lively script and production is brought to the stage by Arts Insight – some 60 young performers in two alternating casts.
We’re in the world of TV game shows and reality series for this livewire musical offering. But it’s a very hyped-up, grotesquely overblown version of that already dyspeptic world.
The prize at stake is a dream job but, as is so often the case when the great British public finds its way into our TV studios, that prize comes a very poor second to the thrill, the allure and the life-changing possibilities of simply being on the small screen.
You’d need an encyclopaedic knowledge of popular culture and a TV consumption of many hours a day to be able to follow every reference in the script. Quiz formats, physical challenges, talent contests and cookery shows all take a hit in the unending sideswipes and parodies making for some genuinely funny moments.
Contestants fight it out, presenters bicker, judges preen and yet the show is somehow held together by a hard-working floor manager.
Having only seen the one cast, and being abundantly aware of the fact that this is nothing if not an ensemble project, it would be unfair to pick out names.
All the main roles were as well played as they were clearly enjoyed and the company support was excellent throughout. Of course there were hiccups, but there was enough energy and passion to help the show leap over any minor snags.
A talented, focussed and vibrant company giving it their all – the future for theatre around here looks pleasingly healthy.
The moral pay-off when it comes is not unexpected. The shallowness of celebrity, whether it be the narcissistic fame of the A-listers or the desperate search for acceptance and acclaim sought by those unable to control their social media compulsion, takes a bashing and it’s the nice and steady one who will eventually win the race. Debatable perhaps but a decent, optimistic slant.
There’s loneliness too at the top for those who have survived the back-biting infighting to get there, and the myth that social media is an adequate replacement for genuine human contact is a valuable takeaway from this ultimately uplifting romp.
But if there’s one thing to be learned from this entertaining and hugely commendable effort though, surely it lies in seeing some sixty youngsters all sharing the limelight together and interacting to produce something real, something live and something that will stay in their memories, and ours, long after the TV is switched off and its stars are yesterday’s news.
Visit lofttheatrecompany.com for further details.